Solmyr

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Going to Canossa - a North Italian AAR

Mods: 1066 bugfix v6 (trial run ;)), SECK, various custom events by other authors, Tunch Khan's Muslim faces
Starting as: County of Modena, ruled in 1066 by Mathilda di Canossa
Goals: Ensure inheritance of Toscana; gain power in Italy; otherwise open goals

First part will be posted later today. :D
 

Nikolai

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Great!:D I'll follow this one. Good luck.;)
 

Solmyr

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On the Way to Toscana
1066-1084

CANO02.gif


The counts of Canossa were an ancient noble family that since the tenth century ruled much of Toscana, Emilia, and parts of Lombardy. But in 1066 nothing remained of this house save Mathilda, the young daughter of marquis Bonifacio who had died in 1052. Mathilda's mother, Beatrice of the house of Ardennes, was a great German cow of a woman, and was regarded as the ruler of Toscana since her husband's death. Her hobbies included eating, drinking, and stalking horrified page boys. But the woman held great influence over Pope Alexander II, and none dared to oppose her.

CANO01.gif


Mathilda, though also plump of body and of no great beauty, was in all other ways completely different from her mother. Her great wisdom and ability to put people at ease were great assets in her governance of her father's ancestral lands around Canossa and in northern Italy. The citizens of the cities of Modena, Ferrara, Mantua, and Brescia supported Mathilda without question, and she was called by them the Grand Contessa.

Still unmarried at twenty, Mathilda was a tempting bride for any nobleman in Europe, for with her would come the vast Italian holdings of her parents. Suitors came all the way from France and Germany to ask for her hand. But Mathilda was determined not to become a tool in Europe's political games, and so she kept refusing all suitors. It was chance that led to her marriage in January 1067. While attending a tourney in Modena, the countess was surprised when a young, handsome knight knelt in front of her and brazenly asked her to marry him. Impressed by his reckless bravery as well as his good looks, Mathilda agreed to the marriage, and the knight, one Angelo of Modena, adopted the name of Canossa for himself. Mathilda was pleased with the arrangement, as it meant that the Canossa inheritance would not pass to any outsiders. It did not take long before she was great with child.

CANO03.gif


Angelo, who was appointed his wife's marshal, proved useful in many ways. He began training the citizen levies in the arts of battle, improving their equipment and tactics considerably throughout Mathilda's early reign. Under his supervision, training grounds were built in the cities, and connections with local mercenary captains were established to ensure that they could be counted on in the event of an invasion. While Mathilda was not one to think of conquests, she recognized the volatility of Italian politics, combined with the ever-growing attempts of expanding Imperial influence, and was happy to fund her husband's military developments.

Mathilda's first child was born in October 1067, a daughter who was named Giovanna. While the countess had wished for a son who could be heir to Toscana, she nevertheless praised God for her firstborn. Soon she was expecting again, but this did not prevent her from working tirelessly for the good of her lands. She began by funding the harvesting of rich forest reserves in the northern Apennines and the valley of the Po, and later built sawmills to aid in construction and expansion of settlements. While her ancestral seat was at Canossa, Mathilda spent much time in the larger cities of her realm, particularly Mantua which was the richest, and was a well-known figure among her people.

Angelo and Mathilda soon had more children. Their eldest son, Federigo, was born in October 1068. The realm rejoiced as Federigo, an Italian, was now the legitimate heir to Toscana. Not only that, but through his Ardennes grandmother, he could lay claim to some counties in Lorraine, particularly Metz whose count had died in early 1069. But not all of Beatrice's influence on the family was good. Born in August 1069, Mathilda's second son Eugenio was stunted, with an oversized head and twisted arms and legs, which court physicians pronounced to be the fault of inbreeding that also plagued Beatrice.

Nonetheless, Mathilda loved all her children and cared for Eugenio as best as she could. She soon gave birth to two more healthy sons, Paolo in June 1070 and Sergio in May 1071. Even a sudden bout of illness that afflicted the elderly steward Michele and the spymaster Aurelio did not dampen the spirits in the court.

In the meantime, Pope Alexander II had passed away and the Curia elected the Archbishop of Gniezno Bogumil, who took the name John XX. Wary of the growing Tuscan power and eager to escape its influence, the new Holy Father invited foreigners to his court, particularly Normans from Sicily and England. It was not long before Norman influence in Rome was at its peak, and the Duke of Normandy Robert, heir to the kingdom of England, enjoyed a close personal friendship with the Pope.

Meanwhile the cities of Italy grew, with populations of Brescia and Mantua rising significantly thanks to the expansion financed by Mathilda. Mathilda's family seat was not forgotten either, as she hired engineers to repair and renovate the old Roman Via Aemilia, and soon also to expand it across the Emilia around Modena and Canossa. Mathilda also promoted fish exports in Ferrara, supported families hurt by the Mantuan fire of 1074, and funded the establishment of courts and magistrates across the lands, ensuring that people could work and do business without fear of thieves or brigands.

Illness, however, continued to be an ever-present scourge in central Italy. The city of Genoa was struggling with typhoid, while malaria threatened all who lived near the coastal marshes in Toscana and Romagna. The court of Canossa was also not spared, as spymaster Aurelio was struck with leprosy (God's punishment for his deceitful ways, some whispered) and died soon after. Also chancellor Adalberto and steward Michele succumbed to illness a few years later. Fortunately, Mathilda's children were spared.

CANO04.gif


In November 1072, the elderly Beatrice d'Ardennes died after overeating, and Mathilda's son Federigo became Duke of Toscana at barely four years of age. The boy was moved to the ducal residence at Firenze, but his parents often visited him, ensuring that he was well cared for. Mathilda, however, had less time for such visits due to her responsibilities as a ruler, so it fell to Angelo to instruct the boy. Under his father's influence, young Federigo undertook military training, though Mathilda had wished for him to be educated in the ways of the court first. The countess was worried about her son's chosen path and it had even upset her so much that she had a brief falling out with her husband and even considered taking on a lover; the stress caused her to miscarry in August 1074. But she soon calmed and allowed her son to take his chosen path in life, reconciling with her husband.

Mathilda's other children were also growing up and it was time to provide for their futures. Giovanna began her education as a lady of the court, while the unfortunately deformed Eugenio was sent to study with monks, where he would be shielded from the ridicule of the world. It was in a way ironic, given what became of him later, that young Paolo was slow to learn to talk, but Mathilda patiently spent time with him and in the end the boy learned his words as well as any other, and soon was studying with teachers at the court. Mathilda was also blessed with another child, a daughter named Camilla, who was born in September 1076. A few years later, another daughter, Stefania, was born.

In May 1078, Pope John XX passed away from an illness, and the Curia now elected another Italian, Mathilda's neighbor bishop Olderico of Padova, who took the name Urban II. Olderico was a man of dubious character, secretive and suspicious. Trusting neither his fellow Italians nor his predecessor's Norman friends, he surrounded himself with men from the North, hard and loyal. Even so, he remained distrustful of the European nobility and particularly Imperial influence in Italy, and so, on Christmas Day of 1078, he sent out a proclamation calling for all Christians to take up arms in liberation of the holy places of Jerusalem. Some listened to him, some did not, but the religious fervor stirred up by the proclamation ensured that the nobility would have its hands full for the foreseeable future.

Mathilda's young son Paolo was progressing well in his studies, and in contrast to his earlier problems, began to be a very good speaker. When he was eight, he befriended a famous (or, some would say, infamous) poet Ottavio Foscaro, whose passionate poems compared only to the amorous escapades and daring cons that he performed in his youth. Still, Mathilda received him at her court and allowed him to instruct Paolo in the fine arts of oration and composition, which he did until his death of old age several years later.

Meanwhile, young Sergio also began his training with the clergy, with an eye to a career in the Church which would give the family more influence. Eugenio, also, progressed well in his studies despite his physical handicaps, and was known as a person of good heart, even to the point of indiscriminate mercy and forgiveness of great wrongs. He also befriended an old hermit in the Apennines, one Abelino, who lived in solitude because of his critical views of the Church which placed him at odds with established authorities.

Mathilda's hired engineers had finished the expansion of Via Aemilia, and the countess soon put them to work on planning an expansion of her ancestral castle at Canossa. This took several years but was finally finished in November 1082, making Canossa one of the better-fortified places in Italy. Mathilda's lands continued to turn a healthy profit and soon she was able to gather enough reserves to import rare scrolls from Constantinople and Cordoba, including works of Aristotle and other classical thinkers, collecting them in a library at Mantua.

CANO05.gif


Meanwhile, young Giovanna grew up to be a willful woman, magnanimous to her friends but vengeful to those who crossed her. It was time to find a husband for her, and with her being eldest daughter of a prestigious and respected family, there was no shortage of suitors. But Mathilda was in no hurry, as she wanted to ensure that her daughter's husband would be a man worthy of her. The first suitor, Amedeo of the republic of Treviso, was turned away on account of his low birth as well as his notorious cruelty. The second suitor, Magnus from faraway Iceland, also proved unacceptable due to being of questionable mental capacity. It was only in March 1084 that a suitable husband presented himself. Young count Norbert de la Marche, only sixteen, had come to rule his county after the untimely death of his father a few years before. By all accounts and appearances, he was a man of good and gentle nature, as well as pious manner and good looks. His impassioned request soon won over the willful Giovanna and swayed the heart of Mathilda, and the marriage was agreed on. Norbert took Giovanna to France with him, and the two families became friends.

Mathilda's other daughters were also growing up fast. Camilla was studying successfully with the nuns, but young Stefania gave Mathilda much worry. Even at five, she was an impulsive, aggressive girl, and any new pets she was given would rarely survive a fortnight. Mathilda tried to comfort her youngest daughter as best as she could, but her thoughts were soon occupied with Federigo, who had matured in Firenze and was now assuming the reins of power...

-----------------------------
Canossa genealogy.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Another AAR from Solmyr is always a joy. :D can't wait for the next update.
 
May 18, 2004
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Well written. I havent got CK yet, but im planning to buy it within the next few weeks. This is very intresting, look forward to an update.
 
Jul 29, 2002
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This looks to be interesting. A good balance of words and pics, and well-written at that. :)
 

Nikolai

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Good written as always, Solmyr.:) Interesting with the part where the new husband of your ruler took her surname. Is that a game feature or did you alter the save game to be able to play further?:)
 

tombom

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Nikolai said:
Good written as always, Solmyr.:) Interesting with the part where the new husband of your ruler took her surname. Is that a game feature or did you alter the save game to be able to play further?:)
Savegame edit. No way to do it ingame.

Good AAR, although I'd have preferred soemwhere different.
 

Nikolai

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I hope he gets the crown of Italy.:)
 
May 18, 2004
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Hopefully you'll get a good looking monarchy, eh! :D
 

Semi-Lobster

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Northern Italy is a great place to start an AAR! Can't wait to see where you go with this! :D

Woops, didn't see your post about it already! :D
 
Last edited:

Morpheus506

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Solmyr said:
Yes, I edited the save to give Angelo the same dynasty so I'd be able to continue with Mathilda's children.

That answers your question, does it not? :)
 

Murmurandus

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Ah, so no Shrewsburry or how it's called...

Good start. :)
 

Lucius Sulla

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I will be following this AAR carefully to check how BugFix v6 is proceeding :)

A good read for an awesome mod!
 

Solmyr

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Wealth and Madness

Young Federigo treated his mother with respect, but nonetheless ruled Toscana independently, according to his own wishes. Thus it was that against Mathilda's advice, he married a local Florentine girl, Alisia Mancini, a member of a merchant family. Alisia was not the best match for him, but Federigo would not listen to any objections, having fallen in love with her. Resigned to their son's decision, Mathilda and Angelo gave him their blessings, and soon Alisia was giving Federigo sons and daughters.

Meanwhile, Mathilda's third son Paolo came of age. From his teacher, the late Ottavio Foscaro, Paolo adopted some less noble characteristics, including a penchant for trickery and cons, but nonetheless his ballads of love and adventure soon captured the hearts of all local people. Soon, Paolo was made ambassador and chancellor for his mother.

I care not for these ladies
That must be woo'd and pray'd
Give me sweet Amaryllis
The wanton country maid,
Nature Art disdaineth,
Her beauty is her own:

And when we court and kiss
She cries 'Forsooth, let go!'
But when we come where comfort is
She never will say no.

If I love Amaryllis
She brings me fruit and flowers
But if we love these ladies
We must bring golden showers
Give them gold that sell love
Give me the nut-brown lass

And when we court and kiss
She cries 'Forsooth, let go!'
But when we come where comfort is
She never will say no.

These ladies must have pillows
And beds by strangers wrought
Give me a bow'r of willows
Of moss and leaves unbought,
And fresh Amaryllis
On milk and honey fed,

And when we court and kiss
She cries 'Forsooth, let go!'
But when we come where comfort is
She never will say no.


CANO07.gif


Indeed, Paolo's song was in a way prophetic of his own marriage. At first he set out to woo Eleonora Orsini, daughter of count Iacopo of Orvieto. But the count was a devoted vassal of the Pope, and mistrusted Paolo's sometimes irreverent songs and mischievous nature. For four months Paolo stayed in Orvieto, trying to win Eleonora's hand, but finally Iacopo refused him, and the girl was given to another. Offended, Paolo's father Angelo swore that the Orsini would pay for this insult. But on his return trip, Paolo met another girl, Filippa, niece of count Pietro of Savoie. The two quickly fell in love and were married with blessings from all their parents.

CANO06.gif


Just as secular culture, religion was also flourishing in the lands of Canossa. Under the guidance of the hermit Abelino, Cluniac monks were called from France to preach the Lord's words and to teach the populace. Soon, under Mathilda's patronage they opened a monastery near Mantua, and a school in the city itself. Sadly, Abelino himself would not see the results of these labors, for he died of old age in February 1086. But his students, Mathilda's sons Eugenio and Sergio, continued his good works. Eugenio, a scholarly man, rejoined his mother at court where he acted as a spiritual advisor, while Sergio set out traveling across northern Italy to help the poor and the destitute.

CANO08.gif


Trade and art of Canossa lands were flourishing as well. Small merchant houses began rising to prominence under Mathilda's patronage, and trading ships began to sail from Ferrara. Also in Ferrara, a new workshop for sculptors was opened by Greek immigrants from Apulia; one of their first masterpieces, a statue by Basilio of Lecce, depicting the Virgin with her face modeled after that of countess Mathilda, holding the baby Christ, still stands in the Church of San Bonifacio in Modena (itself completed a few years later), and is a destination of local pilgrimage. And in Brescia the local monks began the practice of chronicling of events, which made this manuscript possible; they also began collecting the works of classical philosophers and scientists, working closely with the library in Mantua.

In October 1088, Pope Urban II passed away, and the Curia elected bishop Rodolfo of Siena, who took the name Gregory VII. Unlike his predecessor, Gregory was a deeply faithful, scholarly man, under whose guidance religious life in Italy and elsewhere prospered. Gregory was on amicable terms with the houses of Ardennes and Canossa, and particularly valued the advice of Mathilda's cousin, duke Godfried of Lower Lorraine. Mathilda welcomed the advice of this pious Pope, and on his request passed laws forbidding commerce on church squares and welcomed devout Franciscan monks, who practiced poverty and ascetism.

But it seemed that even with her piety, troubles would pursue Mathilda for the last years of her reign. It started when she attended a tourney in Spoleto, organized by her son, duke Federigo. At the event, she was publically maligned by Serlo de Hauteville, the count of Foggia, who questioned the abilities of a female ruler. Federigo was ready to demand an apology and compensation at swordpoint, but Mathilda stopped him (probably fortunately for Federigo, for Serlo was one of the best knights in Italy), and peacefully reconciled with the Norman.

Upon her return from the tourney, Mathilda was told tragic news. Her son Sergio, working tirelessly to help the poor and sick, had succumbed to typhoid in the city of Turin. Mathilda could only mourn her son for the good man he was.

Not long thereafter, another tragedy struck the family. Mathilda's young daughter Stefania, unstable from early childhood, finally lost her mind and sanity. First the girl would claim to be the bride of Christ, then a great knight from the Song of Roland, then a daughter of King Croesus. Some of her claims so alarmed the local clergymen that they were convinced the girl was possessed by the Devil, and only Mathilda's personal plea to the Pope prevented an excommunication.

Fortunately, Mathilda's second daughter Camilla seemed spared such a fate. A kind, deeply religious girl, Camilla was ready to marry, and in November 1092 was wed to Massimo Montefeltro, fifth son of the count of Urbino, and by all accounts a noble knight and a chivalrous husband.

In June 1093, the woman Sofia, who had been midwife and wetnurse for Mathilda's children and later served as her steward, died of old age. In her place, Mathilda appointed Paolo's wife Filippa de Savoie. Filippa was an able steward as well, but not everything went smoothly at first. Emboldened by a change of stewards, the thieves of Bologna infiltrated Modena, opening a branch of their guild there. Mathilda tried to evict them but they entrenched themselves deep for the time being.

Mathilda's son Paolo, in the meantime, continued to compose more and more daring ballads, whose words brought confusion and shock as often as they aroused passions and cheer. It was at this time, in mid-1094, that Paolo also began losing his sanity, often forgetting his wife as he shut himself into his chambers with his friends, feasting and drinking and singing wild songs. The more zealous priests whispered that this also was the work of the Devil, while court physicians blamed the inbred heritage of Mathilda's mother, which had now consumed three of her seven children. Mathilda tried to console Paolo as best as she could, to little effect, but she also took his children under her protection sending his eldest son Ercole to train as a squire and his eldest daughter Giacinta to study with the nuns.

In early August of 1094, Mathilda's husband Angelo died of a stroke at the age of forty-eight. He was laid to rest in the Church of San Bonifacio in Modena. Mathilda, with all her children now either elsewhere or lost to her, was left to mourn her husband in solitude. The Grand Contessa outlived her husband by barely over a year, dying on October 20th, 1095. She was laid to rest in the Canossa tomb beside her husband, and her eldest son Federigo now became the most powerful secular ruler in Italy.

CANO09.gif


-------------------------------------
Canossa genealogy as of October 1095.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Bye bye Mathilda :(

Did you make up Paolo's little ballad or is that a real piece from history?
 

unmerged(35078)

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Oct 8, 2004
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Nice work!

Nice work Solmyr.... Italy seems a good place to AAR! keep up the good work and inspiration to others! Can't wait to read the rest!

Cheers

Sylver69